Type keyword(s) to search

Features

Eight Classic Hanukkah TV Episodes (And Where You Can Watch Them)

One for each night!
  • Photos: CBS, Nickelodeon, The CW, PBS, NBC, ABC, FOX.
    Photos: CBS, Nickelodeon, The CW, PBS, NBC, ABC, FOX.

    Jews may not have much of a Hanukkah movie canon, but television has done its best to depict the Festival of Lights in all its glory. While Saturday Night Live brought the holiday to the non-Jewish masses with Jon Lovitz’s Hanukkah Harry and Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song,” shows like Friends and The Nanny deepened the general public’s understanding of (and appreciation for) Hanukkah with their modern interpretations of an ancient story. You wouldn’t eat latkes without applesauce and sour cream, so why celebrate Hanukkah without these eight classic TV episodes?

    Rugrats: “Rugrats Chanukah”

    When it comes to Hanukkah programming, “Rugrats Chanukah” is as close to a classic as you'l find. Back in 1996, the fourth season of Rugrats kicked off with a re-creation of the Hanukkah story, with Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, and Lil each taking on a different role as they learn about their “forefathers, and their five fathers, and their six fathers.” The special episode was the first-ever Hanukkah episode of a children’s TV series, making it a key moment for Jewish representation on-screen. Streaming on Paramount+

    The O.C.: “The Best Chrismukkah Ever”

    The world has NJB (Nice Jewish Boy) Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) to thank for the concept of “Chrismukkah,” a hybrid holiday for people who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. Chrismukkah made its first appearance in The O.C. Season 1, Episode 13, which saw the love triangle between Seth, Summer (Rachel Bilson), and Anna (Samaire Armstrong) come to a head. Anna’s role in “The Best Chrismukkah Ever” is easy to forget, as the episode also serves as a showcase for Summer’s now-iconic sexy Wonder Woman costume. Streaming on HBO Max

    Even Stevens: “Heck of a Hanukkah”

    Shia LaBeouf has come a long way since his Even Stevens days, but the Festival of Lights provides an annual opportunity to reflect on one of the show’s best episodes. With the holidays approaching, Louis (LaBeouf) goes searching for everyone’s gifts, but an accident results in them falling out his bedroom window and crashing onto the front porch. After facing his siblings’ wrath, Louis thinks his family would be better off if he weren’t born, but a supernatural appearance from his great-great-great-great-grandmother Bubbe Rose (Donna Pescow) helps him realize just how important he really is. Streaming on Disney+

    Friends: “The One with the Holiday Armadillo”

    Lest fans forget Ross Geller is Jewish, “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” (Season 7, Episode 10) serves as a reminder. When Ross (David Schwimmer) learns he’s going to have his son Ben (a very young Cole Sprouse) for the holidays, he invents a special character, the Holiday Armadillo, to help teach him about Hanukkah. Over the course of the episode, Ross tells a somewhat-modified version of the Hanukkah story, and in its final minutes, he and Ben light the menorah alongside his friends. Streaming on HBO Max

    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “My Mom, Greg’s Mom and Josh’s Sweet Dance Moves!”

    Can you believe it took two millennia to get a punchline about the manydifferent ways to spell Hanukkah? In 2016, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend treated us to just that in “My Mom, Greg’s Mom and Josh’s Sweet Dance Moves!” (Season 1, Episode 8), which followed Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) as she prepares for a visit from her overbearing mother, played by Tovah Feldshuh. Despite putting up three different banners — “Happy Chanukah,” “Happy Hanukah,” and “Happy Hanukkah” — Rebecca still gets an earful from her mother, who tornadoes around her apartment while singing a Jewish folk song, “Where’s the Bathroom?” Relatable. Streaming on Netflix

    Arthur: “Arthur’s Perfect Christmas”

    Leave it to Arthur to teach children about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and even “Baxter Day” in the show’s first one-hour primetime special, “Arthur’s Perfect Christmas.” As the title suggests, the special features a numberof different storylines, but its Hanukkah plot centers around Francine’s effort to teach Muffy, who begins the episode by saying Hanukkah isn’t as important as Christmas, about the Jewish holiday and its significance to her family. 20 years later, “Arthur’s Perfect Christmas” remains essential in teaching young children about the winter holidays and the importance of learning about traditions other than your own. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube

    The Goldbergs: “A Christmas Story”

    “A Christmas Story” (Season 3, Episode 10) has the benefit of being both a Hanukkah episode and a “this is what Jews do on Christmas” episode. When her family displays an alarming lack of enthusiasm for the holidays, matriarch Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) creates “Super Hanukkah” to gin up some festive energy. But despite Beverly’s best efforts to string blue and white lights, cover the house in menorahs and Jewish stars, and put presents under a Hanukkah bush, things go off the rails when both Barry (Troy Gentile) and Adam (Sean Giambrone) get their tongues stuck on a pole outside. Streaming on Hulu

    The Nanny: “The Hanukkah Story”

    In the 19990s, Fran Drescher brought a distinctly Jewish perspective to The Nanny, which freshened up “The Hanukkah Story” in Season 6, Episode 10. Fran is excited to spend her first Hanukkah with her new husband Maxwell (Charles Shaughnessy), but when he, C.C. (Lauren Lane), and Gracie (Madeline Zima) drive to Boston at the last minute, Fran is left waiting for them at home as a snowstorm closes in. As it turns out, Maxwell’s car runs off the road during the storm, but disaster is averted when the car oil lasts for eight hours, just as it did in the Holy Temple. It’s a miracle! Streaming on HBO Max

    Future Classics

    While there’s at least a three-year waiting period before something can be deemed a “classic," we’d be remiss if we didn'mention a few newcomers that have put their own spin on Hanukkah in recent years:

    High Maintenance: “Soup”

    In what would turn out to be the series finale of High Maintenance (Season 4, Episode 9), a snowstorm leaves intrepid weed dealer The Guy (Ben Sinclair) stranded in New York with his niece (Rachel Kaly) on Christmas Eve. With no choice but to wait it out, they decide to “do a little Hanukkah thing,” complete with candles, donuts, and a good dose of self-reflection. Streaming on HBO Max

    Dash & Lily: “Hanukkah”

    Netflix’s short-lived Dash & Lily was undoubtedly a Christmas series, but the show made time for one very solid Hanukkah episode (Episode 3), in which Lily attends a secret concert underneath iconic New York City bakery and deli Yonah Schimmel Knish. Streaming on Netflix

    Big Mouth: “A Very Big Mouth Christmas”

    Released just a few weeks ago, “A Very Big Mouth Christmas” (Season 5, Episode 8) experiments with different types of animation to tell a series of unrelated stories about the holidays, including a cautionary tale about Andrew (John Mulaney) wishing he weren’t Jewish. Streaming on Netflix

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: Hanukkah, Arthur, Big Mouth, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Dash & Lily, Even Stevens, Friends, The Goldbergs, High Maintenance, The Nanny, The O.C., Rugrats